Pilot of US Air Force F-15 Fighter Jet Found Dead in North Sea

June 15, 2020 Updated: June 15, 2020

The pilot of a U.S. Air Force fighter jet that crashed off the UK coast Monday morning during a training mission has been found dead, the 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs confirmed in a news release.

The identity of the pilot will not be released until all next-of-kin notifications have been made, the release stated.

“This is a tragic loss for the 48th Fighter Wing community, and our deepest condolences go out to the pilot’s family and the 493rd Fighter Squadron,” Col. William L. Marshall, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing said during a video conference.

The warplane crashed at about 9:40 a.m. (4:40 a.m. ET) and prompted a major search and rescue operation to retrieve the pilot in the North Sea, off the coast of Yorkshire. UK search teams helped to retrieve the pilot of the warplane, who crashed 74 nautical miles off the East Yorkshire coast.

“We are extremely grateful for the timely response of our UK counterparts in the support of these recovery efforts,” Marshall said.

The U.S. Air Force said the type of jet was an F-15C Eagle and lift-off was from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath Base, northeast of London.

On the same morning as the crash, RAF Lakenheath posted a photo on Twitter showing three F-15s in flight. The caption of the post reads, “Ready to take on Monday.”

RAF Lakenheath is the largest U.S. Air Force-operated base in England and the only U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) F-15 fighter wing. More than 4,000 U.S. service men and women are stationed there.

The area where the plane went down is often used by UK and U.S. military jets for training sessions. At the time of the incident, four military jets were deployed in the area for training, according to Sky News.

A U.S. military helicopter crashed on the coast of eastern England in 2014, killing all four crew on board.

Reuters contributed to this report.